In April 2009 Wizards of the Coast stopped all sales of PDFs. The reasons are still not 100% clear but there was always some talk about piracy. Almost two years later there are still no legal PDF products you can buy from WotC. I doubt I have to point out that piracy is still strong.
But I don’t want to talk about piracy today. Recently there were several posts about WotC’s SF roleplaying game Alternity here on Stargazer’s World. The comments on these two articles show that people still hold this game in high regard and quite a few people regret not having picked it up while it was still in print. If it were available as PDF on sites like DriveThruRPG, I am pretty sure WotC could still make some money off of it. But the way it is now, only second-hand book sellers make the profits now.
It would be so much easier if I could go over to DriveThruRPG and get a PDF copy of Alternity, one of the old D&D books or whatever suits my fancy there. With the new POD service even books which have been out of print for decades could find their way back into the hands of today’s gamers.
The way I see it, it would a win-win situation. Wizards could make some money off some of their older products with minimal effort and we gamers could easily get our hands on legal copies of out-of-print products. If Alternity for example was available as a legal PDF I would definitely buy it even though I already own it in print. In this day and age with tablet computers and smartphones in almost every home, PDFs are getting more and more popular. Why WotC ignores this whole market is beyond me.
The costs and effort involved in bringing old products back into the hands are minimal. In most cases they should still have the PDFs, in other cases they could scan the originals and use some OCR software to create proper PDFs. I am sure a lot of fans would even offer to help with this for free. If WotC doesn’t want to run its own download store, they can easily go back to OneBookShelf’s sites.
If anyone from Wizards of the Coast reads this, please talk with the people responsible and try to convince them to bring the PDFs back. And if it’s at all possible make Alternity available as well.